THIS IS REALLY OLD, BUT MIGHT BE WORTH INCLUDING SOMEHOW — i wrote this a while back
Strip from it whatever is neccessary — it's not formatted well for this, and lacks the awesome images of radninja's — but I think a fair bit of the content is applicable.
It's a year old, so the info (particularly on G&P stuff) isn't even accurate with me.
Where to start….. First things first, how much money do you want to spend? If your price range is under $150, then you should not even be thinking AEG. A gas gun or a springer is more suited to you, as not only do you need to buy the gun, but some essentials with it.
First things first: how much money do you have? How much money do you have to spend on this ‘airsoft’ nonsense? How much of this money is going to go towards you gun? Sadly, this is the most important and limiting question.
New or used? Want that shiny ‘new gun’ feel, or are you content to buy a used one, and burn the money you’ve saved on mags, BBs, accessories, or your girlfriend (oops, that should have gone under accessories)?
Upgraded or stock (or stock upgraded)? Are you content to hurl plastic at a lowly 275fps, or are you inspired by desire from the gods that your gun must shoot 400fps or more, so that you can reach out and Really touch someone? Or are you happy with 330fps, and not having to go into the mechbox yourself to do so?
Common or scarce? Are you looking to be just another shmoe with a specops M4A1 SOPMOD (which can be cool, because magazines are share-able) or would you rather have an exotic, bizarre looking foreign gun like the AUG, P90, UZI, or FAMAS? That’s all up to you.
A humble suggestion on my part would be to check out this website
and when you find a gun you’d really rather light your pants on fire than not have, then it’s an AEG you’ll be happy with. No electric gun is perfect, so you’ll want a gun that suits your tastes as well as style of play, and for some reason, a gun you love just shoots better.
Addon aftermarket parts? Does your gun need to light up like a Christmas tree, put on a laser show, or have a minimum of three optical devices at any given time? Or are you content using iron sights and have a very streamlined gun profile? My only useful comment is there’s a number of accessories built for the Picatinny style (modified weaver) accessory rails, so having them on a gun is a plus.
For those of you why don’t know, hopup is the backspin added to BBs in all modern AEGs that allows them to travel in a flatter trajectory.
Battery capacity refers to the physical size of the battery you can place in an AEG, which is directly related to the total number of shots you can fire.
FPS = feet per second, the muzzle velocity of the BB. Also factors into how far it will fly, and also BBs moving faster tend to be less accurate (hence why snipers use heavier BBs)
What do I need to get:
1) A gun. Duh
2) BBs. Guns come with literally a 15 second supply of them: you’ll need more. Here’s where I hop on my dilapidated soap box and emphasize how important it is to buy good BBs. Crappy BBs aren’t as round, or consistent, and tend to jam up, wobble, and otherwise damage internal parts of your AEG. This is not good. To boot, they usually suffer form horrendous accuracy, so If you’re going to spend about $200 for a new AEG, why not spend the extra $0.0008 per BB and be able to hit the broad side of a barn, and not break your new, sexy AEG. Duh
3) Battery. If your gun takes small batteries (700mAh or lower) then you’ll want to buy two of them. Anything over 1700mAh should last you all day (unless you’ve ridiculously upgraded your gun, and/or use it like a hose) but a spare never hurts.
Most important decision is to get NiCD or NiMH batteries. More on this later (I prefer NiMH, as do most airsofters) and if all else fails, this is a forum.
4) Charger. You can get a cheap one, but I’d suggest getting a smart charger of some kind: it’s easier and safer to have something with auto-cutoff, especially when fast charging. Also, if you are using NiCd batteis, you’ll need a Discharger. The better chargers (e.g. Super Brain 959) will also have these, as well as other neat stuff. If you’re no good at cooking, I’d suggest one of these, because burning up a battery is costly, especially before a big game.
5) Eyewear. Paintball mask is highly recommended, but I can’t emphasize enough how hazardous it is to have 6mm Plastic projectiles moving around at 150mph, so wear these at all times. Plastic bounces, and anybody who has seen A Christmas Story knows how that works. Just make sure it doesn’t have any holes 5mm across or bigger.
Highly recommends: I’d highly recommend getting some spare magazines: if you use a huge hicap, I’d suggest getting a spare locap for just in case, if you don’t lke winding, but like shooting in volume I’d highly recommend the G&P madcap magazines, or, if you like realistic firing, get lots of locaps. Having to refill magazines all the time is lame, and frequently I see/hear of people at skirmishes who spent ALL their money on an AEG, and forgot about spare mags.
BDUs. You’ll want to look professional, and also have some camo. Honestly people, the only thing worse than wearing jeans and a T shirt is wearing a bright orange jumpsuit. If you like getting shot at, opposition will be happy to oblige.
Gear. Gloves, kneepads, PASGT to name a few. It also is nice to have an Assault vest, and in NM, a hydration pack goes a long way.
So, add up all these prices, and factor that into your budget, then start deciding what gun to get by use.
Type of Gun.
Designated Marksman/sniper rifle, full size main battle rifle, tactical carbine, carbine, subcompact AR, SMG, PDW
If you happen to be 6’6”, you might look stupid toting a bun with a 8” barrel, but a 4’7” guy would look about as dumb lugging a PSG-1 RAS w/ silencer. Keep in mind your own size, and tolerance for gun size. Some people like cute, maneuverable guns, while I’m a long range, long gun addict. Decide on your style.
In exclusively outdoor encounters, using anything smaller than an AR carbine, your range of accurate fire is capped at around 60ft: the longer rifles will own you.
In CQB, any gun longer than 20” (above tactical carbine) us pretty unwieldy. Smaller is better here, and if you happen to have a beastly sized rifle, I’d suggest popping out your sidearm.
Mixed: this is the no-mans land, where long rifles don’t work inside, and short guns can’t get in shots as effectively. This is the domain of long barrel retractable stock guns, as well as tactical carbines (AUG, FAMAS, L85 included). While any gun is useful in these scenarios, mid-length guns are the most versatile.
If your gun doesn’t ‘fit’ in one of these categories, don’t fear. In squad combat, you can find yourself a role that better fits your gun and playing style.
First, of course is Tokyo Marui. The Japanese firm that first came up with the AEG concept, and is still the leader in airsoft gun design. These guns are characterized by rock solid reliability, moderate stock FPS, and plastic receivers. It is illegal to make/own a gun in Japan that has a metal receiver, so TM does its best using plastic, with varied success. IF yo're looking to buy a used gun, TM are the best bet: if left stock I've seen guns go through 8+ owners in the classifieds, and still be enjoyed by all. They are name brand for a reason, and have the widest selection of guns available.
Classic Army, CA, had put out some pretty terrible AEGs in the past, but they’re growing out of that, especially with their new M15A4 series of AEG. Characterized by attractive, black metal bodied AEGs which are copied Marui designs (but somewhat improved). Usually arriving with stock upgrades (though literaure says practically every internal part is upgraded and/or reinforced, i doubt that) these will shoot over 300fps out of the box, and perform pretty stoutly. Small issues regarding the hpup units, bodies, cylinders, and hicap mags still seem to plague an otherise excellent design. (Again, a marui copy, no surprise here: refined twice). The new M15A4CQB is a very intruguing design, and for CQB, it looks like an amazingly good piece. Also of note are the HK33 and CA36 designs, both of which seem very intirgueing, but are somewhat rare on this side of the big pond.
ICS/AE Are another brand of AEGs, often with metal bodies, and in the case of Airosft Elite, usually farily upgraded. Though thier M4 sries recieves knocks for poor gearbox and mostly for a limited motor, these are still a good alternative if you must have a full metal AEG, and are going to gut the garbox anyway. The strong suit of these are teh AE MP5 series, v3.5 and higher. Only complaint is the tappet plates, but otherwise these are pretty stellar, high perfomance smg aegs, at a great price
G&G, G&P. Though I don't have much personal experience witth these, both of these companies make aftermaket AEG parts, of high quality, so I'd expect their whole AEGs to be very nice firing and show pieces. Some of the coolest AEGs are premade Mk11Mod0 (SR25s), SPRs, and the new readimag GR16A4 (though my favorite is the GR16A5)
Custom Guns: If you have dough, and you feel the ned for something that looks great and shoot great, welcome here. Almsot any airsoft shop of decent size markets custom guns, ranging from absolutely tricked out SV 1911s, to proper reach out and tough gas SVDs, to tricked out mostrosities with more weight in picatinny adn accessories than the original gun. Still, some great examples are the all CA built SR15 kits, a TM AUG turned into a Phantom sniper, or the classic vulcan minigun. Whatever suits your taste, these are made to impress. But, plz do bring napkins to a skrimish if you've got one of these, I'm not so good at wiping drool off my chin.
Basically, don't spend under $200 to get a complete AEG, as you'll need 1 (2) battery, a charger, at least 5000BBs to start with, on top of other gear expenses (minimum PB mask, BDUs, on up to radios, optics ALICE pack gear, the whole enchilada)